Poland Sees Increase in Ukrainians Crossing Border After Russian Invasion

Ukrainians are fleeing their country, with a number of them heading to Poland after Russia prompted a full-blown military action against Ukraine Thursday.

Dozens of Ukrainians have been arriving at a usually quiet crossing area of Medyka on the border of Poland. Officials in the European Union nations that border Ukraine said there is not an influx of refugees now, but local media reported an increase of foot traffic, Reuters reported.

Earlier Thursday, Russian forces invaded Ukraine by land, air and sea in the biggest attack in Europe since World War II. Western European nations are preparing for numerous people fleeing war zones with Poland bracing for the largest wave, per Reuters.

Poland is already home to approximately 2 million Ukrainians and shares more than 300 miles of border with Ukraine. The country is expected to receive a large number of Ukrainian refugees, with Polish officials previously estimating they could see up to a million people arriving from its neighboring country, reported The Guardian.

People trying to leave Ukraine can only do so by ground transportation or on foot because air travel is no longer an option. Ukraine closed its airspace to commercial flights and Kyiv's international airport was reportedly targeted by Russian strikes, BBC reported.

The number of people leaving Ukraine is still relatively small because of the trouble getting out of major cities with traffic coming to a standstill. People in Eastern Ukraine closest to the major conflict have tried to buy bus and train tickets to move further west. Meanwhile, some refugees have been walking on foot with only their suitcases and a few bags containing their belongings in an attempt to enter Poland and Hungary, per BBC.

To help with the potential influx of refugees, Poland is setting up reception points for people crossing the border. Per Reuters, Poland's health minister, Adam Niedzielski, said that his country has prepared a list of 120 hospitals for people affected by the conflict to seek medical treatment.

"We will do everything to ensure that every person who enters the territory of Poland has access to healthcare, including hospitalization," the health ministry said, according to the international news agency.

Other European nations adjacent to Ukraine offered their help. Slovakia's defense minister, Jaroslav Nad, said an estimated 1,500 troops will be sent to the Ukrainian border to assist the refugees. Germany extended humanitarian aid to neighboring countries of Ukraine to help those affected, per Reuters. Romanian President Klaus Iohannis reportedly said his country will offer assistance if necessary.

Update 2/24/2022, 10:30 a.m. ET: This story has been updated with additional information.

Ukrainians Fleeing
A woman and child peer out of the window of a bus as they leave Sievierodonetsk, the Luhansk region, eastern Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday announced a military operation in Ukraine and warned other countries that any attempt to interfere with the Russian action would lead to "consequences you have never seen." Vadim Ghirda/AP Photo